Volunteers plant willow saplings next to a montane stream.
Volunteers plant willow saplings next to a montane stream.

Willow planting restoration project. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
Willow planting restoration project. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies

Western Rivers Initiative News

Get Outside and Lend a Hand to Rivers

Sign up for Audubon Rockies-sponsored Wildlands Restoration Volunteers volunteer projects.

Have you gotten outside and connected with a river this summer? Since 2016, Audubon Rockies and Wildland Restoration Volunteers have teamed up to restore streamside and wetland habitats in strategic locations across Colorado. Native streamside and wetland vegetation are critical to western birds and provide ecosystem services like clean drinking water for people.  

Late summer and fall are exciting times for birds and birding. As aspens, cottonwoods, and willows turn to gold, river flows drop and migratory birds take to the air. Here are some ways you can enjoy birds and rivers during late summer and fall.

Audubon Rockies would like to invite you to get out in the field with us on a restoration project day! Project days are managed with volunteer COVID-19 safety first and foremost and include hands-on learning, community science, friendships, and “outdoor therapy.”

We have several opportunities coming up for you to help important habitats! Registration is now open. Visit the project links below to find out more information and sign up.

Greater Sage-Grouse in NW Colorado  

Wednesday, September 9th – Saturday 12th, near Craig, CO

Wet meadows and riparian areas in sagebrush shrublands provide important brood-rearing habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse. These habitats are also important for numerous other species, including neo-tropical migratory birds, elk and mule deer, as well as to ranchers for livestock grazing. A number of wet meadows and riparian areas, already compromised by erosion and lower water tables, are likely to be further altered from drought and high-intensity rainstorms associated with a changing climate. To address these challenges, we will be working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and many local partners to restore riparian and wet meadow habitats in sagebrush shrublands. Register here

Dolores River  

Saturday October 3rd – Sunday 4th, near Bedrock, CO

Restore riparian habitat on the Dolores River by planting native riparian species and removing invasive tamarisk. Volunteers will camp out near the river and spend a few days working to restore a critical riparian area in the desert. The Dolores River has been overwhelmed with tamarisk, and this project is part of a larger effort to improve habitat along the river. Register here

St. Vrain Tamarisk Removal

Tuesday, October 6th, Boulder / Weld Co., CO
Tuesday, October 20th, Boulder / Weld Co., CO

Enjoy panoramic views of the Front Range and restore an area on St. Vrain Creek deeply impacted by the 2013 flood. In the aftermath of the flood, millions of invasive tamarisk seedlings germinated. If they mature they pose a major threat to the watershed and bird native habitats. Volunteers will continue tremendous progress from past years, removing tamarisk through hand pulling and weed wrenching. Read our blog post from the event last year. 
Register for October 6
Register for October 20

Campbell Valley

Saturday October 17th, North of Fort Collins, CO

Just 20 miles north of Fort Collins exists one of the most important mountains-to-plains ecological transition zones in the Front Range: the Laramie Foothills Conservation Area. In the early 1900s, Campbell Creek was used to transport irrigation water while the North Poudre Irrigation Canal was being completed. The elevation of the creek bottom was down cut by approximately 40 feet, causing the elevation of the valley's tributaries to drop. This massive change in the watershed caused significant head-cutting and down-cutting of every tributary in the valley. Come plant cottonwood and peachleaf willow containers near previously constructed beaver dam analogs and maintain the fences that keep the cattle away from new plants. Register here

Pawnee National Grassland

Sunday October 25th, Northeast of Briggsdale, CO

Join us for a fun day of fencing on the prairie! Pawnee National Grassland is home to abundant wildlife and recreation opportunities. It also exists in a patchwork of land ownership, which means it has many miles of fencing. On this project, volunteers will work to maintain, repair and replace existing fenced exclosures with wildlife-friendly fence. Due to protections for ground-nesting birds and raptors, we have a limited annual window of time for these projects. Other projects will be scheduled on Sundays throughout October, November, and December as weather permits. Register here

Get excited for these projects and learn about why they matter; watch our new river restoration video:‚Äč

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How you can help, right now